Goodreads Monday (May 2018)

goodreads monday

I saw this meme on Books, Vertigo and Tea and I thought this one seemed fun to join and feature on my blog from time to time as well! The original post of Goodreads Monday was posted by Lauren’s Page Turners. Thank you Lauren for this great idea. This really is a great way to help me take another look at all the books added to the wishlist so long ago and at the same time I can share some interesting titles.

There’s only one rule: Simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to link back to Lauren’s Page turners and add your own links!

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Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

I shelved this on 12 September 2016 on Goodreads. I just realised this novel has a staggering 4.15 rating on Goodreads (and a 4.6 rating or 75% 5 stars on Amazon) so it’s worth bumping it up my list.

Swear on this life

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

So what do you think, yay or nay? Have you read it or is it on your readlist too?

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Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton #BookReview

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Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road.

She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now?

Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

star three and a half

It must be karma because while I was finishing this novel, something very sad happened to someone at work. One day he’s there, the next he’s not.. gone in the blink of an eye, much like Lily in this novel.

I’m not one to believe in an afterlife or staying around on earth (although I did really love the movie Ghost) but I actually found some comfort in the story as I imagined my colleague following everyone around and still being near. Sometimes you just find it in unexpected places when you need it. If you are struggling with feelings of grief, having difficulties letting a loved one go, then this is a nice novel to lose yourself into and draw some strength and positive thoughts from in the end.

Sunflowers in February touches subjects as spirituality and life after death but all in a charmingly funny way. It’s a book about trying to hold on – and Lily is quite literally holding on to her old life by claiming her brother’s body – but also about letting go. I had some problems with Lily’s selfish choice to take what wasn’t hers and putting her brother in her own shoes. She also didn’t make much of an effort either acting like a boy. Imagine your brother squeeling over a pair of shoes, ahum. So sometimes she did irritate me a little bit and I thought I would do better (not that I’ve ever tried mind). If it was an effort at being hilariously funny then it was maybe somewhat cheeky and humourous but not in a laughing out loud kind of way but I felt the story didn’t need it really or it was perhaps not something I was looking for in that moment so that’s probably why I also liked the story more towards the ending. In the final part she’s more reflective and appreciative of everybody and you can feel the warmth of her family and her friends even though they don’t know she’s there.

Overall, this was a light and humurous read which started out from a horrific situation but was beautifully turned around and left me with a heart-warming and satisfying feeling.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

180 Seconds by Jessica Park #BookReview

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Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

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Who knew that 180 seconds of staring into Esben’s eyes could turn Allison’s life around so much? I know how it sounds and what happened in those 3 minutes of silence is hard to explain but the author made it an extremely loaded moment and was able to describe it with lots of feeling. I think this book pretty much falls or stands with this scene because it has to be believeable that they connect in that moment and I did feel it in the beautiful way it was written. Those 180 seconds with all of Allison’s thoughts and emotions swirling around and the description of that connection, of him really seeing behind her walls, was amazing to see.

Allison has always been guarded and has done everything to protect her heart, never letting anyone in behind those high walls and I couldn’t have been happier to see that Esben really sees through her.. isn’t it what we all ultimately want, being understood and able to be ourself and still be loved? It was so easy to root for Allison.

This novel is so heart-warming and has such a great cast of characters. I loved Allison’s father Simon, her best friend Steffi and Esben’s sister Kerry. There’s a background story that is really moving for each of them and made me like them even more. And Esben, oh Esben is one of those perfect book boyfriends. He’s doing so much good in the world, showing random acts of kindness via the videos he uploads. He’s so thoughtful and caring and everything a girl would want.

But then.. my poor heart! I didn’t expect it to happen AT ALL but reading this novel made me feel as if my heart was going to explode. Their attraction and development of the love story was so sweet and beautiful and gave me such a high but then a cruel, cruel author (just kidding) took my blissful feeling and turned me in an almost blubbering mess. Yes there were actual tears and believe me when I tell you that doesn’t happen very often. 180 Seconds got me all emotional though and it’ll be added to my shortlist of books that make me cry. This was a story of enormous personal growth, it was moving and touching, with enough sadness and love to get me through the next few months of reading.

180 Seconds is the first novel I read by Jessica Park and it certainly won’t be the last. She definitely scored in my books!

This novel was included in the Bookworm Box of May 2017.

 

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

 amazon uk amazon com

Review

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Colleen Hoover was, is and always will be one of my favorite authors. I don’t know how she does it but she delivers the most heartfelt stories E-V-E-R-Y SINGLE TIME. One of the many many reasons why she’s so successful I think is that she makes her characters always so honest. I love that about her books. It feels like you see their true selves, their soul in what they say. The characters just worm their way into your heart in no time. She already tied in ‘sweet and sour’ moments in her earlier novels which were picked up by many readers afterwards (it means you share your best and worst moment of the day). In It Ends With Us Lily and Ryle have their moments of ‘Naked Truths’ where they are telling it to each other just like it is, the raw truth, without any filter, and well it just works, they delve deep in their inner selves and that in turn touched me.

Lily was such a realistic character and Colleen made me really see and understand that nothing is only a black and white situation, that you’re often in one of love and hate at the same time. She paints a realistic picture of how it’s like to live with someone you love dearly and where you have so many good moments with but then those 15 bad seconds can destroy the image you had from your father forever. It still haunts Lily to this day, when it’s not even an issue anymore, but you carry it with you of course for the rest of your life…

Colleen brilliantly inserted the sensitive subject of domestic abuse into the storyline. But above all the story is still – as always – even more about love and the lengths we go for it. It is such an emotional story that made ME cry because Lily was embedded so deeply into my heart.

It Ends With Us… four little words that hold so much power in them once you’ve read the novel.. I knew it was going to be meaningful and deep in advance but she really got to me.

I’m convinced this is a story that really only Colleen Hoover can tell in such a perfect way. It’s such an amazing and profound novel, I could re-read it right away! If you haven’t read any novel by Colleen Hoover yet, this is a perfect one to start with!

Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.

I’m the proud owner of a paperback copy which I paid full price. This is my honest opinion.

Exposure by Tracy Ewens #BookReview

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What’s it about?

If only life were as simple as smiling for the camera.

After years of braving the Arctic’s frigid temperatures or endless hours tracking the Spirit Bear to capture the perfect shot for National Geographic, Meg Jeffries decides to move back to the city—San Francisco. She wants a life with more stability. The kind that lets her see her family more than once a year and comes with owning a toaster or a full-sized tube of toothpaste. But creating her new “ normal” is not without its obstacles. Meg is confident and successful behind a camera. A little extra publicity can’t change that… until it does.

Westin Drake is famous for fast cars and box office sales. Yet he’s a terrible driver and secretly hopes his fifteen minutes is almost up. West moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco, looking for some substance and time near his family. But now that the buzz of his next film, Full Throttle – Floor It, is hitting maximum fervor, West keeps everyone at arm’s length so he can protect the people he loves… until he can’t.

When the public mistakes a simple kiss on the cheek for a budding romance, Meg and West are caught in a media frenzy. Somewhere amid the backseat getaways and plastered smiles, Meg discovers the man behind the glossy photographs, and West wonders how he’ll ever let her go once the cameras stop rolling. Love is never simple, especially when the world’s watching. How much are two people willing to expose for a chance at a true happily ever after?

amazon uk amazon com

Review

star three and a half

Throw two opposites together and you get.. a very enticing story. The people in this story are two sides of a coin, she is used to being free, alone, breathing in fresh air, he is used to the flash of the cameras wherever he is. Can you see the hurdle there? OK I could spot it a mile away but what’s life (in books) without a little drama, too damn easy I’d say. So I’m not complaining that there were maybe-probably-definitely some big choices to be made here. I was very curious to see how their interest in each other was going to develop… would they give love a chance when it would also imply that one of them had to make a life-changing choice. Were they going to make it? I wouldn’t bet any money on it when I started to read this anyway but you never know…

Meg has led the most interesting life looking through her camera lens, capturing the most amazing wildlife in faraway countries. Reading about her encounters with bears etc made me just dream away. West is an A-list actor and in a few months he’ll shoot movie number 5 of the Full Throttle series. He’s more than a pretty face though even if nobody is interested in that.

She’s been living her life in her own little bubble so Meg doesn’t know who he is when she meets him at the Climate Wellness Symposium where she’s the key speaker and he has to introduce her. They hit it off right away and they’ll be seeing each other a lot more when they make a business deal for the presentation of more climate awareness projects together. They start to really like each other’s company but is there really a future for them ahead when they lead so very different lives?

She: Do I look polished? (..) He: No. (…) She: What image do I project then?

Spring, he thought, or the rich colors of the hills afer a deep all-dry rain. She looked alive and somehow despite her work, she didn’t notice the world could be a dreary place. 

Probably best to keep that to himself.

She’s like a breath of fresh air for him and I can totally see the appeal of this strong and independent woman. He – I like to think he reminds me of Paul Walker – is a good guy who has an eye for detail and appreciates the art in the city. Yes he’s a celebrity and has bodyguards and all that but he comes from a normal family and maintaining a level of normality and looking after his family still mean everything to him.

This was an enjoyable and sweet romance but I didn’t have any heart-melting moments like I always have with my number one author. It was great to see them bond at one moment over the fact that they’re both the youngest of the family. There were definitely some highlights in the story and I really liked that they found redeeming qualities in each other and it wasn’t just a flash of physical attraction, but I still wasn’t swooned by their story like I wanted. I think it was a good read overall but it isn’t a really memorable one for me.

This novel was included in my one-month subscription Bookworm box (May edition) and this is my honest opinion.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman #BookReview

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What’s it about?

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

amazon uk amazon com

Review

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I knew it, I knew it, I just knew I was going to love this one. I was drawn to this novel like a moth to a flame. This was a story that I really wanted to discover myself when I saw the reviews and I already had a feeling this was going to be an exceptional read before I even read the first page. Call it intuition, ok call it luck then, but I was right anyway, I was well and truly hooked by the story. It’s going to be impossible to keep this review short, I just have so much to ramble about. I’m not even sorry :-).

I don’t know if Eleanor Oliphant’s surname was chosen with this in mind or was just meant to be quirky in analogy with Eleanor’s character, but in Dutch we have a saying about people acting like a bull in a China Shop, only the animal used in Dutch is in fact an elephant. That is exactly how I was thinking about Eleanor as well and why I think her name fit her so well. She’s so otherworldly, her world is structured and timed and she doesn’t have a filter to what she’s saying, she’s so socially inept. It’s funny sometimes, painful at other times. It really helped to cement my warm feelings and sympathies for her and I even started to think she might very well be on the autism spectrum. I felt a strange kinship and saw a piece of me in her too on some levels, it was easy to connect, even if she feels a bit bourgeois by the way that she’s talking. Her sentences were eloquent and sophisticated and there was a moment in the beginning that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this style, but I adapted and while it might not work for me in another novel, I felt her speech was in line with her character here as well, especially bearing in mind we are talking about a person who doesn’t even use abbreviations in e-mails and is unfamiliar with common social interaction.

She’s got everything under control but is she really? She buys vodka every weekend and talks to her house plant so I wasn’t sure about that. The only person who comes by is the social worker twice a year and the gas meter guy. She also talks to her mother on the phone one time every week. Her mother is ‘locked up’ somewhere and it’s clear that she’s an abusive person.

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing until it is there and that’s exactly what the author shows through the interactions with Raymond, a work colleague who doesn’t give up on her. When they come to the rescue when a pedestrian falls in the street, she agrees to meet him at the hospital and this is the start of plenty more interactions, slowly developing a friendship and broadening her small world. It was great to see her grow and discover the world like this, seeing the world through Eleanor’s eyes was so fascinating. That is really the word that captures her character perfectly, Eleanor was utterly fascinating to follow.

Gail Honeyman put so much effort into Eleanor’s character, she’s so defined and so true and honest, that my heart really went out for her. Eleanor gives herself a little make-over and her shenanigans were quite endearing to read but she doesn’t only get a make-over on the outside. Eleanor’s world shifted when she met Raymond and she grows stronger every day. This novel is a heart-warming story, funny and sad because yes there is a tragic backstory that ‘ll move you without a doubt. A story about coming to terms with the past and moving on.

I can’t believe this is a debut novel really. The beautiful cover, the perfect title, the brilliant writing, it all just works together in the best way possible. Apart from the warning that the author wrote half of the novel in a literary style which took some getting used to, there’s absolutely nothing you won’t like about this novel.

Many many thanks to my wonderful blog friend Anne for sending me her proof paperback copy. This is my honest opinion.

This Love by Dani Atkins

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What’s it about?

Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a long time ago, but could this love change all of that?

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon – she’s a single, 31-year-old translator who works from home in her one-bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in dreams when she was a teenager and tragedy struck her family.

So, to be safe, she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a passer-by, Ben, sees her and rescues her.

Suddenly her cocoon is shattered – what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

You can buy a copy of this novel on Amazon UK | Amazon US.

Review

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Real heroes do exist! This is just the most perfect romance novel, filled with emotion!

This book opened with a bang. I personally love the damsel in distress theme (it’s so me) and this is exactly what you’re going to get here. It feels like this novel was written especially for me! This Love starts with some very tense chapters with Sophie being trapped in her appartment while there’s a fire raging in the building on the floor below hers. The situation felt authentically tense and dangerous and I’m pretty confident this author could have a go at the thriller genre and write a bestseller. I was very happy her witty remarks also relieved some of the tension because I’m not sure my heart would have survived otherwise; I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry while she was trying to escape. That’s the first time I could feel I was in for an emotional read.

When Sophie gets out safe to the ground she’s rushed off to the hospital; she didn’t even get a chance to thank Ben properly for his involvement in her escape. She assumes she’ll never see him again but of course something brings them back together again and again and the blossoming of their love was so beautiful to witness, it filled my heart. Ben is perfect, he’s humorous, he’s caring… He goes out looking for Fred, her cat, without her knowing, for hours, so who’s not going to love a man like that? Sophie isn’t looking for love though…

I had inadvertently opened a door to allow him a glimpse of a room that very few people ever entered. I really wanted to shut it again, right now, only he had one of his big old size twelve feet in the way, blocking me.

They become best of friends and are growing closer together day by day, but then suddenly when he has his friends over, he can’t get her out of the room fast enough. Did she read him wrongly and will she admit to herself what she’s feeling? Can she get over her feelings of fear for the future because what if he would leave her too, like that other person she loved and was so brutally taken away from her?

Sophie we’re all going to die… eventually. No one can alter that. It’s what you do before that counts. No one should be remembered for how they died. But how you lived… well, that’s something that shouldn’t ever be forgotten.

My heart shuddered quite a few times while reading this novel, it ballooned, almost spilled and was punctured more than once too. It was a joy to get to know Ben, Sophie and all of Ben’s wonderful friends. Even if you think you know where this novel is hurtling to and you think you’ve got it all under control, piece of cake, well you’re wrong, so wrong. If you’re really emphatic you’re going to feel it SO hard.

If you want a tear-jerker, look no further because this book will have you laughing and crying and ultimately leave you with a major book-hangover!

This Love is perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Colleen Hoover. I’ve found myself a new favourite author!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Simon & Schuster in exchange for my honest opinion.